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Brazil Wins Olympic Women's Volleyball Gold
    2008-08-23 21:51:06     Xinhua

They jumped, they smashed and they won. Unstoppable Brazil won their first ever Olympic gold medal in women's volleyball after beating the United States 3-1 on Saturday.

The Americans took home the second silver after the one from the Los Angeles Games in 1984.

Brazil, playing ballet-like delicate passing and samba-like quick smashing, turned the first clash between the two teams at Beijing Games into an artistic 25-15, 18-25, 25-13 and 25-21 victory.

The two sides fought closely at the opener before 10-all, when Brazil, led by ace spikers Sheilla Castro and Fabiana Claudino, launched a stunning 10-1 run to establish a solid foundation for victory 20-11.

American wing spiker Logan Tom scored three points in row and Heather Bown added one more to pull back 15-23, but Paula Pequeno immediately responded with a kill spike and an ace serve to clinch the set for Brazil 25-15.

The U.S. found their rhythm after veteran setter Lindsey Berg was sent to the court and their stormy serves destroyed the Brazilian reception.

Starting within 8-3, the Americans maintained winning momentum and enlarged the gap to 22-16. Danielle Scott-Arruda helped the U.S. take the match point 24-18 with a kill block and a quick middle court spike, but it was Tom who sealed the victory 25-18 with an unanswered spike.

The world's No. 1 Brazil, who sailed into the final without losing a single set, showed their true colors at the third set by strengthening blocking and serving. A decisive Brazil took the effortless set 25-13.

The fourth set had been a tit-for-tat battle before a 21-21 draw, when Kim Glass gave the advantage to Brazil with a serve error. Claudino and Castro helped the Brazil take the match points 24-21 with kill blocks, but it was American Tom who blew the ball out, as well as their chance to go further. Brazil won the match 25-21.

Earlier in the bronze medal match, China upset Cuba 3-1.

The defending champion, shrugging off the humiliating straight-set loss to Brazil in the semifinals, won the morale-boosting match, 25-16, 21-25, 25-13 and 25-20.

Although the host easily won the first set, Cuba, three-time champion in 1992, 1996 and 2000 fought back to win the second set. But China's powerful serving and solid blocking overpowered the Cubans who failed to win another set.

 
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